What are consistent themes in your work—what do you find yourself returning to?
Rebecca: My consistent focus since graduating has been to play with the balance between representation and abstraction of landscapes and the natural world, I thrive on the idea of suggesting something to a viewer and then essentially thwarting that perception by drawing them in to see the beauty of paint on a surface. The perception of the viewer is essential to the concept of the paintings, they may ‘see’ something recognizable, a seascape, a landscape, sky, trees, which allows them to relate to a painting on a level involved with their own memories, but I want to take them past that, to see the paint, react emotionally to the actual painting, not just to the perceived subject of the piece.
How do you define the term ‘artist’?
Rebecca: I think an artist is anyone who takes something they see and reinterprets it creatively and visually, whether that be through painting, dance, photography, sculpture, wood work, embroidery, street art, I think that the scope of what constitutes ‘art’ is very broad. But saying that, I have been painting for over thirty years and would generally prefer to call myself a painter rather than an artist, in the same way that a dancer would call themselves a dancer, or a photographer would refer to themselves as a photographer first and foremost.
What is your favorite piece from your collection at Stripe and why? What drew you to Stripe?
Rebecca: This part about my favourite piece is so hard to answer! I generally paint from instinct and carry on painting until I like what I see enough to stop. Sometimes that is after an hour, sometimes a week, sometimes never (I have a large ‘reject’ pile in my studio!). So they are all my favourites at the point in time that I finish them.
Looking back on a body of work, like the 31 paintings I have in Stripe, is really interesting because it does enable me to see them more objectively.
The horizon line paintings have been a consistent theme in my work for the entire thirty years I have been painting, I always return to them. There is something pure about the simple act of drawing a horizontal line and applying paint that fulfills all my criteria of balancing something that looks like a landscape but is essentially abstract.
My more recent work has been about bringing in a drawn white line that defines the subject, to which I then apply paint to play between the idea of representing that landscape and creating gorgeous paint effects and texture on the surface.
Very recently I have started using old fashioned carbon paper to draw with, and that is bringing up some interesting results and ideas, so I am very fond of those paintings too. And I am loving the use of a metallic painted background, in golds and silvers, which when painted over gives a really beautiful ‘glow’, so I love those to0.
That hasn’t answered that part of the question at all has it, it’s a long way round of saying I can’t choose a favourite!
The bit about ‘why Stripe’ is much easier to answer! Having known Suna for nearly 25 years now, I can see that Stripe basically looks like the inside of her amazingly creative brain. The balanced and curated combination of flea market finds, local arts and crafts, hand selected fashion and jewellery, treats and gifts is just perfect. To have been offered the opportunity to be able to add my paintings to the mix is amazing. Stripe personifies the concept of a true independent store, run by one of the most intuitively creative people I know, who has surrounded herself with like-minded people to ensure the store continues to evolve with new and innovative products, supporting local suppliers, craftspeople and artists (and a UK painter!).
What motivates you to continue to create?
Rebecca: The last two years have been an amazing experience with external validation coming from gallery representation, being selected for exhibitions, being longlisted and shortlisted in some prestigious UK prizes, and having opportunities like this Stripe show but I have to kind of put all that to one side or I would end up ‘painting to order’, painting what I know people like, and that is not a creative place for me.
Creativity for me lies in the evolution of my work, I have had a period where it has been a bit crazy, I have had hundreds of seemingly disparate ideas and been working on things that look like completely different people have been involved, but I am slowly drawing these elements together and I can start to see things creatively colliding, in a good way.
I think I will always, given time, evolve new ideas, new processes, new materials, and combine them with older more established ways of working with paint. This evolution of the process brings inherent creativity and I thrive on that. I couldn’t stay in the same place painting the same things over and over.
How has your practice changed over time?
Rebecca: The last two years of the global pandemic and the restrictions that we were all under gave me the opportunity of time, alongside the fact that my children are now at an age where they have gained more independence so there has been a major shift for me, giving me the time to concentrate on my painting.
This means that ideas that might have taken weeks/months to evolve can be processed much more quickly. So some of my completed paintings of the last two years look very different to how they looked say ten, twenty years ago. But the consistent theme of my practice, the idea of ‘playing’ and experimenting with paint, has remained unchanged since my university days in the ‘90s. It’s just that the results of this process of play come out with different results now than they did back then.
Rebecca's show is on view at Stripe for the month of December 2021. Original paintings are available for purchase at $300 each. Please call us for inquiries (831)421-9252.